AUGUSTA — As The Red Barn tried to hold on to first place in Zone 2 Saturday, the Augusta-based team hosted two games with Franklin County. The first was quick, crisp, and well-played. The second looked like it would be the kind of game that began at 1 p.m. and was called on account of darkness.

Fittingly, the two games were split. Franklin County once again showed itself as a scrappy, hustling team, and The Red Barn held onto first place. The Red Barn took the first game, 4-2, with a three-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Franklin rebounded to win Game 2, 16-9, in an American Legion Baseball doubleheader at Morton Field.

First place is worth more than just bragging rights in Zone 2. The first-place team in Zone 2 gets a bye directly to the Zone tournament. The other six teams all have to win a play-in game, which is played just three days before the start of the Zone tournament. The Red Barn is in first with a 9-3 record, while Post 51 (7-4) and Madison (8-5) are each a game and a half back. Franklin is 5-7 and has a chance to host one of the three play-in games on July 17.

The pitching matchup in Game 1 looked like a mismatch on the surface, as hard-throwing Zack Lachance, one of the top pitchers in the Zone, was on the hill for The Red Barn, while the Flyers countered with junior varsity pitcher Evan Roberts.

Lachance’s performance was no surprise. He pitched a complete-game five-hitter, picked off two of those runners, struck out four and allowed only one earned run. Lachance also seemed unfazed by the muggy weather.

“I love it,” Lachance said. “It’s the best kind of weather.”

But while Roberts can’t match Lachance’s velocity, he showed a veteran’s command of the strike zone. Ben Lucas touched him for a solo homer in the second inning, but the Flyers got that run back in the third when Ryan Greenman’s RBI single scored Blake Hart. When Roberts reached on an error in the sixth and Matt Crowley singled him home, Franklin led 2-1.

The Red Barn was clutch in the bottom of the sixth to take the win. Matt Delmar walked and stole second, and one out later, Jory Humphrey walked on an eight-pitch at bat. Pinch hitter Cam Brochu singled home Delmar with the tying run. After a sacrifice fly by Lucas made it 3-2, pinch hitter Carson Dalheim delivered an RBI single for an insurance run.

After the tough loss on a hot day, the Flyers came out even stronger in the second game. They scored two in the first on Scott Hall’s two-out single, and added three more in the second with the help of a two-run double by Cam Abbott. Hart continued to be a force offensively (two hits and four walks in eight plate appearances) and Anthony Franchetti added a three-run homer in the fourth to give Franklin County a 9-0 lead.

“That’s what I like about this group of kids,” Franklin County coach Kyle Gunzinger said. “I thought we hit the ball better in the second one than we have all year, as a total team.”

After Hall allowed one unearned run over four innings, Abbott came on to finish out the game in the bottom of the fifth. Franklin led 11-1 with two outs and no one on base, but Dalheim walked on a 3-2 pitch and Lachance homered to keep the game going.

The Red Barn added another run to get within 11-4, but the Flyers pushed that lead back to 16-4 in the top of the sixth. The Red Barn promptly scored four runs before the first out was recorded in the bottom of the inning. sanity finally prevailed at that point, as the hosts scored one more run and neither team scored in the seventh.

“You’d really like to close the door there,” Gunzinger said. “But that’s a good baseball team, and they didn’t quit. They came fighting back.”

The Red Barn coach Don Plourde wrote the second game off as the kind of game every team has once per season. As for holding onto first place, Plourde said he was more concerned that his team be in a good shape for a run heading into the playoffs.

“We’re still in the process of finding out what our best lineup is, because we’ve really been together only three weeks now,” Plourde said. “It’s more important to us coaches to have a cohesive team that’s playing well as opposed to just being in first place. Obviously, we’ll take it, but it’s not the end-all, be-all.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

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